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Australian nude beach faces possible closure

By Lilit Marcus, CNN

(CNN) — A popular Australian nude beach could be no more.

Tyagarah Beach, a secluded 800-meter (875-yard) stretch of beachfront north of Byron Bay, has been the topic of heated debate in recent weeks.

The beach, long loved by naturists from Australia and around the world, is part of the Tyagarah Nature Reserve and maintained by the New South Wales state government.

Last year the state government wrote to the local council complaining that public nudity was “not consistent with the values the reserve is managed under,” according to CNN affiliate 9News.

The move is part of a broader strategy launched by the Byron Bay Shire Council, which unveiled a plan for managing the Nature Reserve.

On February 22, the council will vote on whether to revoke the beach’s clothing-optional policy.

A report from the Tyagarah Nature Reserve conservation plan noted that “There have been reports of offensive, obscene or antisocial behavior associated with some users of Council’s ‘clothes optional’ beach, including visitors being inappropriately dressed in the adjacent day use area in the reserve.”

Local police have been tasked with handling public complaints regarding the beach.

However, not everyone is happy with the decision.

A petition launched by Bradley Benham, president of the Byron Naturists group, has 1,125 signatures as of February 14.

The petition is addressed to Penny Sharpe, New South Wales’ environment minister.

“Nude recreation is a legitimate way of life,” Benham wrote. “Legal outdoor spaces for the naturist community are rare in NSW (and Australia) and this beach is highly valued by both committed and casual naturists.”

This is not the first time that Tyagarah’s clothing-free status has been in danger of crackdown. In 2018, a similar measure was rejected by the Shire Council and CCTV cameras were installed as a compromise.

“I’ve been nude bathing on Byron Shire beaches since I was a child in the 70s and 80s,” Benham told 9 News. “We now have a much greater population. We have a lot more beach users and we need a legal designated area where we can bathe nude.”

If next week’s measure passes, Tyagarah will be swimsuit-mandatory from April 8.

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